Jan 8, 2016 | By Kira

AstroPrint, developers of a cloud-based 3D printing software platform, were faced with an aggressive timeline to bring an entirely new user interface and mobile application to life, to be embedded into a Marvell-powered 3D printer. With the goal of presenting a live, proof-of-concept demo at CES 2016, AstroPrint managed, in less than two months, to get the job done thanks to the open source application framework, KinomaJS. The final result is a polished demo that includes both an embedded device (the 3D printer) and a mobile app designed to provide complex 3D print job management.

Open source software engineering company Kinoma is a division of Marvell Semiconductor, a $3 billion public company and leader in providing ‘complete silicon solutions’, form mobile communications to IoT, cloud infrastructre and more. A few years ago, Marvell announced its entry to the 3D printer market by introducing it’s fully integrated 3D printer ‘system-on-a-chip’ (SoC) solution, designed to enable a broad array of customers to quickly bring innovative, full-featured 3D printer products to market.

For its part, KinomaJS, is an open source application framework uniquely designed to build the core applications for Internet of Things products and other embedded devices, such as 3D printers, using JavaScript. For AstroPrint, KinomaJS proved to be an invaluable asset in developing the entire 3D printer software stack within an agressive timeline.

For one, AstroPrint made quick work of familiarizing themselves with the application framework, which was possible thanks to the Inegrated Development Environment (IDE) available to KinomaJS programmers. “The IDE was a key factor in AstroPrint’s ability to deliver this complex project on time,” said Peter Hoddie, co-founder of Kinoma. “They built the whole project on a hardware simulator first, and were able to conduct iterative design cycles more quickly. AstroPrint engineers (logic) and designers (UI) both used the simulator. Then they started testing on actual devices, finding the code very easy to port.”

According to Hoddie, through KinomaJS AstroPrint was able to simplify and streamline the communication between firmware, hardware, software and front panel display, compared to what it was able to achieve previously using Python and JavaScript for project development. It also assisted with creation of the on board application of the 3D printer, the required performance to drive the 3D printer’s 7-inch touchscreen, and development of a smartphone and tablet companion app that can be used to start and manage 3D print jobs directly from the cloud.

“The sample code and documentation published by Kinoma was very important to the AstroPrint team. And they were able to post tricky questions in the Kinoma Forums where they received timely responses from the Kinoma engineers who’ve architected the application framework,” said Daniel Arroyo, AstroPrint’s CTO.

The UI and mobile app were specifically designed to interface with the AstroPrint and Thingiverse APIs to control and manage Marvell-powered 3D printer hardware. Namely, the hardware will be Marvell’s 88PA6270 high-performance printer processor.

Despite the aggressive timeline not only to learn about KinomaJS and then develop the entire software solution, AstroPrint was able to successfully pull it off, and the fruits of its labor are now being showcased at CES 2016.

AstroPrint’s very mission is to make 3D printing as simple as possible for users of al experience levels, offering 1-click-to-print from nearly any web-enabled or mobile device and intelligent 3D printing auto-settings that work to reduce failed prints, optimize the user experience, and ultimately “accelerate the potential for mainstream 3D printer market adoption.”

“The 3D industry needs to be much more consumer friendly. And that’s what our apps are focused on: removing steps, streamlining the process, and making the whole experience friendly,” said Arroyo ahead of the CES 2016 demo. “We see the industry expanding beyond its current core focus on prototyping and industrial use. We see it moving forward to the consumer print space. And software is a huge part of that, which is why KinomaJS is so interesting to us.”



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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